VT2 and 80/20 Zones

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    First, I have both the 80/20 Endurance and Run Like A Pro books in audiobook format. Between hikes, runs, and driving for work I found this to be a good way to consume this material.

    However, this makes it more difficult to skim through and try and find specific sections.

    So, if this is answered clearly in these books, I apologize. I did try and look (and checked out the PDFs each audiobook came with). However, I could not find the answer.

    I like the 80/20 Zones and use them on TrainingPeaks for Pace, Power, and HR.

    I have finally been able to focus on some HR training on account of a treadmill, poor winter weather, and a Garmin HRM. I am liking to so far.

    What I could find indicates that Zone 2 is the upper end of VT1 training using HR. Am I right? It is not Zone 3, right? And Zone X is the middle ground between Zone 2 and 3 that should be avoided if possible.

    If so, then what is Zone 3? Is Zone 3 the VT2 zone? Or is that Zone 4?

    Any insight is appreciated, even pointing to chapters of either of the above-two books where this is discussed.


    This get complicated. I’m surprised that the coaches and author have not responded. There is a lot of confusion about your question.

    Training Peaks and 80/20 base their intensities on Lactate Threshold. But, who is going to do a lab test to determine the exact point – no one is my guess. So they make approximations, which in my opinion are close enough.

    VT2 has been shown to be close to the Lactate Threshold – a little bit lower depending on a number of factors. It is important to remember that Lactate and Ventilation threshold are different and only approximate any relationship.

    The 80/20 calculators using the talk test will set VT1 at the top of Zone II. I personally find this to be a good match and use the suggested heart rate for “easy” workouts. I also find that VT2 (labored breathing) is consistent with somewhere in Zone 3. I have no idea what my actual lactate levels are so I accept the expertise of the authors and coaches. I “think” I am pushing by breathing (one or two words, AKA: don’t bother me, I’m working) at the top end of Zone III, and so I am comfortable with their recommendations.

    No pride here. If I have any of this wrong, say so…



    Thank you! This is what I thought, but I realized I was not sure. I’ve been reading up on other sources about threshold—both HR and Lactate—training and trying to sort it out.

    There are basically two thresholds, as I understand—aerobic and anaerobic. And there are kind of two ways to measure those threshold—HR and Lactate.

    And my understanding is you can do lab-based tests that get you those zones—which I *think* are lactate-based. The HR thresholds those tests uncover get you the HR range where you flip over into Aerobic or Anaerobic effort (VT1 and VT2, if I understand the books right). You can also, in these tests, get your lactate levels for those zones. This would allow you to target training based on lactate levels if you had a blood lactate meter. (The Ingebrigtsens do this, as do some other endurance athletes.)

    We do currently live near a few facilities that provide affordable Vo2Max and Threshold lab tests, so this is something I was interested in understanding better if I were to use one of those services.

    But also, I was trying to better understand how to adapt the 80/20 Method’s training plans to Daniel’s Running Formula (and his VDOT system), which shares some of the same principles and ideas as the 80/20 method.

    Plus, I was trying to wrap my head around it based on some other running coaches or run-fluencers who talk about their training efforts (and tri-fluencers) at threshold.

    I will say I I do think the talk-test is about spot on for me as I’ve honed it in the last year or so. Doing treadmill-based runs with a HR meter has helped.

    Finally, I have a couple of kiddos running track/cross country who I am trying to find ways to improve their VT1 and VT2, and I was thinking for VT2 that meant more Zone 3 runs. With the occasional race-pace, Repetition (to borrow a Daniels’ term) interval session to get used to the specific speed.

    Ran a Parkrun Saturday—unplanned—and it was slow because I was shepherding the youngest to the line as a sweeper (and he had a legit ankle pain slowing him, too). Still, I can say that after a 2-month period of nailing the HR 80/20 zones and finally working up to 6 hours (still pushing for 7!) of running, it was a LOT easier than the last Parkrun 5 months ago (both RPE *and* HR).

    Thanks again. The book has been really helpful for this former HS cross country runner slowly getting back into gear to be able to at least hang with his marathon-running wife, and cross country-running kids. The days of sub-6 minute mile splits in 5k/10ks may be over, but if I can get to where I’m not shattered at the end of a 5k I’ll be ecstatic!

    (Plus, as a former youth runner with some decent age-based PBs, I remember the more interval-based, HARD training we had. And I want my kids to enjoy running now, and in the future, and the 80/20 approach I think may get them there.)

    Matt Fitzgerald

    This table . . .


    . . . taken from this book . . .

    . . . should clarify things a bit.


    It does. Thank you for the clarification.

    I find several good sources that also show VT2 below the LT, but the devil is in the details… Some say VT2 is placed where you can mutter two or three words, others one single syllable word. I use the former, so a single syllable word would indeed place me in Zone Y (or higher, my Zone Y is 4 bpm wide).

    I absolutely love it when I learn something new like this. I have a RFF33 Zone III workout in a couple of days and a chance to test it out :-). In the grand scheme of things VT2 doesn’t really matter since we generally avoid Zone Y, but playing with knowledge is just as much fun and incentive as running and racing.


    Thank you! I knew you discussed it in the book, but as I said, my copy is an audiobook. Hard to skim through and find this.

    Plus, it does not look like it is in the companion PDF from Audible I received. (I *did* search for it, I swear! Lol.)

    This is what I thought I remembered, but I was not sure.

    Thank you again!

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